STRUGGLING Brits on Universal Credit can get help paying for bills and other essentials – and it's money you don't have to pay back.
Christmas can be an expensive time of year already and a cost of living crisis means cash won't go as far for many this winter.
Help for those on Universal Credit and other benefits ranges from council tax discounts to supermarket food vouchers.
Here we've rounded up all the help you could get this Christmas.
Check your benefit entitlement
Just because you get Universal Credit, it doesn't mean that' s all you can get.
Millions of Brits are missing out on benefits they're entitled to adding up to billions of pounds in total.
Benefit calculators can help you check what you could be entitled to.
For instance you might get extra cash if you're looking after someone else or for housing costs.
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There are several benefit checker tools you can use – here's our guide.
Get a council tax discount
Council tax is one of the biggest household bills and the most important – if you fall behind you could be asked to pay the entire yearly upfront.
Non-payment can also result in bailiffs visiting your home, court action or even imprisonment.
Paying this bill is a priority so if you're struggling with it you should seek help straight away.
and you can also find help from charities like Citizens Advice.
Brits struggling can also get council tax debt written off using a little known rule.
Many don't know that they could get a discount on their council tax bill, or be exempt from paying it altogether.
Reductions are available for those on low-incomes, people claiming certain benefits, those caring for others as well as other circumstances.
The amount your bill is reduced by can range from 25% off to 100% which would mean you pay nothing at all for this bill.
You can check out when you might get a council tax discount in our guide or contact your local council to check what support you can claim and apply.
Low-income families may be eligible for charitable grants to cover housing costs.
As grants are typically different to loans, most do not have to be paid back.
Turn2Us has a tool that can help you check out grants available near you on its website.
You’ll need to enter some personal information like your postcode, your gender, and your age.
Household Support Fund
A new fund totalling £500m has been handed to councils to give out to struggling families.
The Household Support Fund includes vouchers to spend in the supermarket and for buying kids clothes, in one area and £100 cash in another.
The help you can get depends on you location and your circumstances.
You can find your local council using this tool and searching you postcode. to see what help is available near to you.
It's worth checking sooner rather than later as there area deadlines for applying and some are coming up soon.
£140 off your energy bill
There are several schemes available, either through your energy supplier or via government schemes.
There's £140 available to reduce your bill through the warm home discount scheme for anyone on a low income.
It's on a first come, first served basis, so you need to apply quickly or miss out.
You can find out how to apply and who's eligible in our guide and even if your supplier has gone bust there's still time to get an application in to your new one.
You could also get cash automatically if temperatures drop below zero through the cold weather payment scheme.
Cash for paying rent
There's cash help for anyone struggling that's available from your local council through the discretionary housing payment.
Anyone claiming Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit could be eligible if they are struggling with rent costs.
Each local authority dishes out the cash to those in need on a case-by-case basis and the amounts available can vary.
Here's everything you need to know about who can get the cash and how to claim.
Welfare assistance scheme
Some councils also offer support through the welfare support fund, to help cover the costs of essentials, from buying new furniture to food vouchers.
An investigation by The Sun found that hard-up Brits can apply for help worth up to £1,000.
But exactly how much you get and what for will depend on where you live – and not all councils have this help.
Grants are given on a case-by-case basis and there will be a different application process depending on where in the country you live.
You can find out who your local council is by visiting the gov.uk website and get in touch with them about whether help is available in your area.
Work from home cash
If you have worked from home even for just one day since the pandemic started, you could get tax back.
It's worth £125 a year and you can make a claim for last year and this year, if you worked from home in both of them.
Millions of people have still not claimed the cash back but there's still time to do it.
HMRC has a simple tool you can use to apply – here's what yo need to do.
You might get Universal Credit paid early this Christmas and these are the dates you could get it.
You might get a bonus payment this Christmas, so check you statement.
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